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High cholesterol should be taken seriously

September is National Cholesterol Education Month. Let's take a look at what it means to have high cholesterol and some ways you can lower it.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, one in six Americans has high cholesterol. What this means is that you have increased risk of heart disease, which is the leading cause of death in this country. The good news is that there are ways to lower your cholesterol with some lifestyle changes.

Not smoking, exercising more, reducing stress and maintaining a healthy diet are all ways to help lower your cholesterol. Seventy-five percent of your cholesterol is manufactured by your liver and 25 percent is due to diet. That 25 percent can make the difference between dangerously high cholesterol and a healthy cholesterol level.

Here are some foods that can help to lower your cholesterol:

Eat whole grains for breakfast. The whole grains help keep you full longer, keeping you from overeating when lunch hour rolls around. A good reminder that goes beyond breakfast is to replace processed carbs, such as pasta, white rice and breakfast cereal with whole grains like whole-wheat pasta, brown or wild rice.

Eat from the sea. Seafood has zero saturated fat. Salmon, tuna and trout are the best choices. These fish contain omega-three fatty acids, which help lower triglycerides and may also reduce cholesterol levels.

Choose good fats. All fats are not created equally. Saturated fats, found in butter, raise "bad" LDL cholesterol. So do trans fats, which are found in a lot of processed food including frozen foods, mixes like cake mix and bisquick, canned soups, breakfast cereals, and chips and crackers. Avoid processed foods whenever you can. They are very high in salt. When choosing fats to cook with, go for vegetable oils like olive oil and canola oil.

Load your plate with fruits and veggies. The fiber in fruits and vegetables helps lower cholesterol. People who eat more fruits and vegetables tend to fill up on these healthy options, leaving less room for fatty foods.

Go for the nuts. Nuts contain monounsaturated fat, which lowers "bad" cholesterol while leaving the "good" cholesterol alone. Eat a small handful every day to boost your health. Don't eat more than that though, as nuts are high in calories and fat.

Use portion control. Maintain a healthy weight. This is one of the best ways to ensure that your cholesterol stays at a healthy level. Keep servings moderate, desserts an occasional treat and don't help yourself to those seconds.

If you have any questions about issues that deal with seniors, feel free to give me a call at (320) 762-3047. Enjoy fall and apple season!